By Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai
“We lack road, water, and housing facilities. Our children are unable to attend school regularly as there is no proper transport service. We don’t have any facility and leading the same life even now as same as 18 years ago”.
This is a cry of an Internally Displaced single mother from Jaffna, A. Shahula shared her agony while chewing betel. She is living with her two kids in Saltern 2 welfare camp in Puttlam.
Most of them are still leading their lives in welfare camps, and lack the normal living standard of a person. A large number of internally displaced persons from Jaffna are living in Thillaiyady, which is called “Little Jaffna”. These Internally Displaced Persons feel that, there is a discrimination between the Internally Displaced Persons from Jaffna and Mannar. They are frustrated about the long delay in distribution of services and goods.
[Slide presentation: Internally Displaced Persons in Puttlam launch Political Front]
The People’s Revival Front was inaugurated in order to fulfill the needs of the IDPs, who languish in the welfare camps for nearly two decades. They say that, they have been cheated by the politicians, and they want a political representation for the Internally Displaced Persons from Jaffna.
“Our people have lost many of their rights. We want to make a difference in their lives and restore their rights. We like to resettle them back in their own places and solve their hardships. These are the main reasons for us to start a new political party. Starting a new party was a long due, we must have started this party 10 or 15 years ago” says M. M. Kuthoos, the President of People’s Revival Front as a call for prayer was called in the evening.
There were 20,000 Muslims, who got evicted from Jaffna district in 1990. The number and the needs have doubled during nearly two decades. There are about 15,000 registered voters among the Jaffna Internally Displaced Persons in Puttlam.
The part of the trouble that has developed in Puttlam is between the IDPs and the host community, there aren’t enough jobs and resources for both.
“We are living with a lot of hardships in the welfare camps. There is no job opportunity, rations are not given at regular intervals. We receive the rations after four or five months” lamented S. H. Mansoor, who is running a small grocery shop adjoining his thatched house in Saltern 2 camp.
The members of the host community in Puttlam believe that, the beginning of a new party such as People’s Revival Front is a good move to meet the needs of the Internally Displaced Persons.
“When the minority political parties contest along with the majority political parties, there are injustices such as poll rigging” said S.R.M.Muzammil, the Chief Trustee of Puttlam Grand Mosque and a member of the host community as he relaxes and supervises in his coconut grove.
Internally Displaced Persons are hopeful that the People’s Revival Party will be able to solve their problems in the future. According to the President of the People’s Revival Front that, they are planning to register it in the near future.
Puttlam is situated on the coastal belt of North Western Province. According to a survey carried out by the District Secretariat of Puttlam, the total population of the district is 8,14,000. Sinhala population is 5,85,000, Muslim population is 1,49,000, and Tamil population is 80,000. There are currently 75,000 Internally Displaced Persons from Northern Province in Puttlam.
Audio in Tamil:Dushiyanthini Kanagasabapathipillai talks to Internally Diplaced Persons in Puttlam on their new effort: